In mid-November, Hollywood came to Boston to film yet another gritty crime drama entitled “Live By Night”. It will no doubt be the next in a long line of excellent pictures1, many of them based on Dennis Lehane books, which make our city seem like such an appealing place to visit or live. And wouldn’t you know it, this particular film features Ben Affleck (though hopefully not all of him) as both director and male lead.
“Live By Night” is set in 1928, during the era of Prohibition. For several days, Warner Brothers transformed a pair of public streets just a couple blocks from my house in the North End of Boston. I wandered through the shooting area in the days and evening before shooting, and snapped some pictures. I shared two shots on Instagram, appropriately filtered into black and white, but there was much more to see. I eschewed the usual celebrity gawking2 and focused more on the period adjustments.
It would seem that there were fewer hotels and/or more itinerant individuals back in 1928. Multiple fictional establishments offered rooms available for rent, some furnished, and some for daily or weekly rates.
From violins to watches to shoes, many more things got repaired back in the olden days.
The real-life work of newspaper writers from 87 years ago still lives on. Note the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti.
There aren’t many modern buildings around these parts. On the right, the crew didn’t need to do much more than attach an awning.
The past sure did require a lot of barrels and boxes.
Very Reasonable Prices
Prices were dropping to unsustainable levels. Pizza, or pizze anyway, was tremendously cheap at just five cents a slice! Even today, that would be just $0.70.
These apples were real, and also very reasonably priced. I couldn’t find a clerk to pay, so I just left a penny for the apple I took. The lettuce was rather waxy though, so I skipped that.
Meanwhile, back in the present, the basic needs of crew members were covered. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a gendered porta-potty.
Of course, big fancy movie stars need something a little nicer. Here, Ben Affleck may have peed. Or even pooped!
One Last Thing
Finally, we come to my favorite thing. Someone got paid to half-fill an antique-looking trash barrel with fake Hollywood trash. But then they had the foresight to cover it with plastic wrap, so that no modern day snackers would toss their empty Flamin’ Hot Cheetos bags in there.
That’s all for today’s edition of Hollywood in Boston. “Live By Night” is reportedly set for release December 31st, 2017, so you probably don’t need to line up for tickets just yet.
In no small part because I was never there when the movie stars were. ↩︎